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Trump And Kafka Walk Into A Bar

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{I wrote this after Donald Trump was elected President of The United States of America. Many folk also looked at it after the glorious meeting in  Helsinki with Putin, Tzar of ALL The Russias. So – why not post an oldie but a goodie as the West’s democratic representative here on earth meets Kim Jong-un  – a Tzar in his own right – in Hanoi? Will it be Viet Nam all over again?}

~ Frank. Welcome to your world.

~ Thanks, DT. I’ve been living it all my life.

~ I’ve taken some pages out of your books, Frank.

~ I did try to get them burned.

~ You didn’t try too hard.

~ Well – no.

~ You know – neither did I.

~ I know. They all ran to your tune.

~ They did.

~ You were the Pied Piper of Havoc.

~ Worked like a charm, Frank.

~ Yes, DT – yes, it did.

~ They thought I was a bug.

~ Yes.

~ But I turned them into bugs.

~That you did, DT. And turned them against each other.

~ Yes.

~ And stood back, and watched.

~ Pretty well.

~ To the victor goes the spoils.

~ I was astounded – believe me.

~ And they keep making the same mistakes.

~ I know, Frank. I’d laugh if it wasn’t so funny.

~ The one-eyed man is King in the land of the Blind.

~ Yes, Frank – yes. But you know what?

~ What?

~ I’ve got great vision in both eyes.

(image) http://s3.amazonaws.com/ quietus_production/images/articles/21607/cf35889b7cbe1c1e99763f8b9cf64535_1484923461.jpg

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The Jewish Gal On Vacation To Dachau

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I once received a post card from Auschwitz, saying: “Wish you were here.”  From a friend with a ‘certain’ sense of humour. Yes, I know we choose our friends as opposed to our families, but I probably would have done the same. Irreverent humour is but one response to that which is beyond response.

As it was, the post card took me back to my university days, when I worked on a farm in Germany in lieu of getting into a Goethe Institute. Not particularly taxing farm work. I could relate the painting of apple trees or escaping from the midst of a herd of bulls after breaking my whip on one of their backs – but I won’t. If I ever get to my memoirs however . . .

After the farm I travelled through Germany and parts of Europe,  mostly by train.  One of my stops was Munich where, as often as not, I stayed in a Youth Hostel. And there I met the Jewish gal on her way to Dachau. She was from the US and not on a work experience as was I. Dachau was the specific destination for her.

She either borrowed postage stamps from me, or I from her – I don’t remember, though I know we exchanged them.  We had the part of two days together (no – no nights) and then she was on her way. I don’t remember if she asked me to accompany her to Dachau, but I think not. Although I was going to Britain to visit relatives, I believe I would have taken that extra day.

As it was, we exchanged addresses and, upon our return to North America, we wrote letters. And, as it was, we arranged a visit to my New Brunswick home from her New England home. That was quite a leap for less than twenty-four hours together. I picked her up after dark at the closest airport. During the drive I stopped in the middle of forest for two hitch hikers. She must have been a bit concerned, but she said nothing. I remember the deep smell of pine from their clothes, as they had been working in the woods.

She stayed with my parents and I for four days (no nights there, either). She told me that when her mother was talking to her grandmother on the phone about the trip, she heard her grandmother bellow across the room “IS HE JEWISH?”

Thus does memory flow from a post card.

I don’t, alas, remember her last name (this being decades ago). At the time she was studying to be an air traffic controller. Whether she  became one, and whither she went, I do not know. When I last communicated with her she was attending Brown University. She did not discuss Dachau with me.

(image) https://www.telegraph.co.uk/content/dam/news/2017/01/26/JS118941505_PA_Holocaust-Memorial-Day-xlarge_trans_NvBQzQNjv4BqnjcgOEmjComRJj7yhDPbodY_2WJtD5buqqdscmZo4bI.jpg

Train Station Saved By Becoming House of Booze

 

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I was first at this train station in the late 1950s, to greet my Mother’s mother, who travelled by ship from England.
She first went to Saint John’s, and then (I guess) Halifax. She stayed with us two months or more, with one trip (I bet by train) to Ontario to see a sister (Great Aunt Lizzie, who sent me a toy where you squeezed a rubber ball attached to a hose that pushed air into a small box which made it pop open and a snake coiled out. I called the snake Lizzie, which caused some consternation).

Also, my brother’s first memory of my father was seeing a pair of legs waiting at the bottom of a rail car as he and Mom disembarked. I assume this was also the York St. Station. He would have been three. Dad was away on the continent fighting a war when he was born and, at war’s end, had been shipped directly back to Canada.

And – of course – I lived ten minutes away from this station for thirty-four years. Many and many are the times I walked the tracks to go to UNB, both as a student, and for work at the University Library. Many was the Sunday walk I took from the Station to the Princess Margaret Bridge, which was two kilometres away. Then I walked back beside the river.

I also took a number of train trips to and from this station. And during those times the train finally did not physically come into this station, one took a bus from here, to and fro the Fredericton Junction station.

This  unexpected walk down memory lane is caused by my current character, Alison Alexandra. For the last three days I have been describing Alison Alexandra sitting beside a disused train station (now a museum), waiting for a train to pass so she can wave at the engineer. Which she did.

Here is the link that describes how this station – eventually – was revived from its years of abandonment, and its derelict situation, to become a modern place of commerce.

History, Poetry And Religion In A Cathedral For Evensong

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[Bishop John Medley (John Fredericton)]
Yesterday a writing colleague, Robert Hawkes, launched his poetry book about a Nineteenth Century Anglican Bishop, John Medley. An intriguing aspect of the launch was that it occurred during an Evensong service, in the very cathedral  where Medley had been bishop.

I am so sorry to have missed the event, not just for the book launch, but because it was a part of Evensong.  My interest in this service is explained in the following blog, that I posted last year, around the time of Remembrance Day.

~~~~~~~~~~
An evening church service is a favourite of mine – even as a child. However, it has fallen out of favour and is no longer regularly offered.

Trusty Google helped me find one last Sunday. Not only an Evensong, but a Choral Evensong. And not only choral, but it was dedicated as a Remembrance Evensong. I was coming in, out of the cold, in style.

It was held in St. George’s Church – also know as the Round Church for its shape. www.roundchurch.ca

I had been in the church as a tourist, but not for years. A 5pm service in November got me there at dusk. It is a large church, complete with upper balconies. It is close in proximity to the Halifax naval yard, and I wondered if there would be some military presence. As it was, an officer in uniform read a lesson, while a military chaplain gave the sermon.

Not having been to an Evensong for decades, I don’t know if it was a large or small congregation. My guess is there were thirty or so people present, plus 10 in the choir, plus 2 ministers, 1 verger and the organist/choir director.

I would say that Evensong is a modified Morning service, perhaps more fitting for the time of day. In addition to a choral choir singing selections on their own, there were hymns that are favourites of mine. “Oh God, Our Help In Ages Past”  “Abide With Me” and three (3) stanzas of “God Save The Queen”. How close to heaven can one monarchist get?

As an added surprise (which would have made my father ecstatic) it was a High Church Anglican church, and even had incense. Perhaps that explained the choral choir.

At the end, after the procession had left, the large and booming organ belted out a selection by César Franck – Pièce Héroïque“. Members of the choir returned and sat in pews to listen.

When it was completed and people started to leave, I had a tiny ageist and sexist lapse. Two little, white-haired ladies got out of their pew to leave. Walking slowly before me, they talked of the music. I thought they were going to complain about the (admittedly) lengthy organ recital.

“Oh, that music,” said one.

“Yes,” said the other, nodding.

“It’s one of my favourite pieces.”

“I know what you mean.”

Kafka And Harvest On The Farm 100 Years Ago

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My novel, Kafka In The Castle, set in 1917, mimics the year I wrote it (two years in a row, actually). For instance, 10 October 1917 was a Tuesday. It was a Tuesday in the year I wrote it. So I share some of my fictional Kafka 100 years after the fact.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

10 October 1917

A rainy day which halted most of the harvest.

I thought there would be grumbling, and the kitchen filled with men drinking tea. But if I’m here long enough, I’ll learn.

I discovered that during harvest, most regular chores are put aside, so when some time appears, there is as much activity as ever. Plus, there is the additional anxiety over how long the produce will be delayed in the field.

I’m certain that Ottla looks out the window every ten minutes, and asks my opinion of the rain every half hour.

I have learned to look with my knowing farmer’s eye, and nod, and grunt.

So far Ottla never fails to laugh.

(image) https://cdn5.tenthacrefarm.com/wp-content/uploads/IMG_1683-1024×768.jpg

Diana As The Dead Princess

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In my novel, More Famous Than The Queen, my famous character – known only by his initials, ST – is invited to attend the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales. This is from his arrival at Heathrow Airport.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Did you ever meet Dodi?”

“Should it be a State funeral?”

“They say she telephoned you. Any comment?”

“Were the Princess and Dodi getting married?

“BBC International. Any possibility of an interview?”

“How long will you be in London?”

“Do you think the Queen has treated her shabby?”

“Do you think the photogs killed her?”

“They say the Royals welcome her back into their world only as a corpse. Do you agree?”

“Welcome to my world.” ST sighs the words, but not loudly enough to be picked up by the forest of microphones.

Less than a day ago, his world consisted of the back yard of his Nova Scotia hideaway, and a running debate with himself about the merits of hour-old coffee. Wife Number Two (he realizes this term is a bit cruel, for her name is Miriam, and they parted amiably enough) swore coffee should be thrown away if it became an hour old. ST can’t notice a difference, and wonders if it is a deficiency in him.

This was the height of his concern when his email, and his fax, dropped the invitation/summons into his lap. He had reacted as if the questionable hot coffee was dumped on him instead.

His stirred-up memories of Diana are also bittersweet.

Particularly his recollections of her troubled phone calls. At first she would be full of apology for disturbing him, but this quickly gave way to a jumble of questions and gossip. She seemed to be forever asking advice, yet she had her decisions already made. Which never irritated him, and obviously never bothered her, for within a few months she would be on the phone again, and the cycle would commence.

ST wishes he could have had the chance to give her one last piece of advice.

And that she would have taken it.

Stay in the hotel for the night.

DE  

(image)cdn.images.express.co.uk/img/dynamic/106/590x/secondary/diana-elvis-638167.jpg

#Trump And #Merkel Walk Into A Bar In Hamburg

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~ You are not quite the tuff bad boy I expected, Herr Donald.

~  Maybe not – but your stiff starchiness is evident, Frau Reich Chancellor.

~ One must keep you and the Tzar of all the Russias in their place.

~ Nothing is going to keep Vlad in his corner of his empire.

~ True.

~ Unless . . .

~ Speak it up, Herr Donald.

~ I dunno – you never know who is listening these days.

~ I think we’re safe – the Tzar is on his way home.

~ But “home” is the operative word, Angie.

~ Then you had best whisper into my shell-like ear.

~ All we’d need is a Twitter GIF of that!

~ Not to worry – I’ll just roll my eyes.

~ Well – Frau Angie – why don’t we form an Anchluss?

~ I think you mean an alliance, Herr Donald.

~ I’ll leave the technicalities to you.

~ And we’d already have an alliance, Der Donald, if you behaved yourself.

~ Did you just say “dear”?

~ Not in this lifetime.

~ Just checking, Angie.

~ Nor the one after.

~ The ladies like a bit of power – if you get my drift.

~ Hell would first freeze over.

~ I’m thinking you might accomplish that, Frau Reich Chancellor.

DE

(image)s.newsweek.com/sites/www.newsweek.com/files/styles/embed-lg/public/2017/07/07/trump-merkel.JPG

Trump And France Walk Into A Bar

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~ Monsieur le Président. What can I get you?

~ I’m guessing it will be wine?

~ It does not need to be.

~ Isn’t that what’s supposed to be civilised?
~ les Français have a much wider civilisation than that.

~ I have a fondness – or is it a weakness – for Charteuse.
~ That is fine, mais …

~ I like the green colour in the glass.
~ Indeed, it is beautiful.
~ Have you another suggestion?

~ Absinthe
~ Uh-oh. That sounds like a baddie, believe me.
~ It has a certain heft.
~ You know I don’t drink?
~  Mais, oui.
~ Then what is the purpose?
~ It is poor diplomacy to drink alone.
~Then have at it.
~ Monsieur Trump, the whole country – all of Europe – would like to thank you.
~ Am I going to get a wedgie here?
~ Not at all – you have saved us.
~ It’s starting to feel really really tight in my butt cheeks.
~ The citizens français have seen what you accomplish.
~ It’s getting hard to sit down.
~ And have voted against something similar happening here.
~ Are you trying to get me to drink this thing?
~ Mais, non. You just keep being who you are.

DE

Birthdays Bring Thoughts And Pictures From The Past

 

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(image)http://unbhistory.lib.unb.ca/images/thumb/2/22/Mccord_hall.jpg/399px-Mccord_hall.jpg

Birthdays make me (surprise) ponder the past.

My great friend and writing mentor, Nancy Bauer, as wise as the ears she sometimes writes about, in the past had mentioned the Past on Facebook. One of the responses to her comment spoke about our mutual times with a fluid writing group, in the gathering place fondly known as The Ice House.

That reminded me of this past blog of mine. It is centred around The Ice House and the passage of time. I’m sure Nancy, who writes a weekly newspaper column and has, occasionally, some trouble thinking of topics, will allow me to modify and steal from myself.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I came across an announcement today about a memorial reading for the Canadian poet, Alden Nowlan. One of my claims to fame is being mistaken for Alden – sadly three years after he died. Perhaps I had had a rough night the night before. At any rate, at this memorial reading a number of the readers are known to me and come from my ‘era’. One of the things some of us shared was that we were members of the same writing group. This group met on Tuesday nights for two to three hours, reading and commenting on each others work. Save for one Master’s Thesis that I know of, not enough has been written about this long-lasted group. And much could be written. Many notables passed through the door and many eventually-established authors emerged.

Although the building where we met had the proper name of McCord Hall, it was in fact the very old converted Ice House of the University of New Brunswick. It had been turned fancy with wooden beams and high windows and a long impressive wooden table. The Ice House is in current use as I speak, designated as an English Graduate seminar room. There is even coffee.

 

Indeed, just recently I wrote a brief story about the Ice House for a CBC contest. It went, in its entirety:

When the august Ice House Gang was in its writing heyday at the University of New Brunswick, the saintly Nancy Bauer was looked upon as our revered Mentor. She was calm and fair, even to the untutored and raunchy. Once, while one of our more seamy members was reading out-and-out pornography, I began to rub my foot against her leg. A look of confusion crossed her face and then, with a voice etched in acid, she loudly announced: “That Estey is feeling me up under the table.”

 
I did not win.

However, perhaps the reason is because of the following. This is part of the description of the memorial reading for Alden:

Along with Nowlan, former University of New Brunswick professor Bob Gibbs was a member of the “Ice House Gang”, a group of faculty members and writers who would gather in an old stone hut on College Hill.

I know much is in the eye of the beholder, but…

DE

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